The world of music is beyond over-saturated. It’s beautiful in a way, how anyone can easily write and record music and express themselves in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. However, more often than not, no one will ever hear it. To stand out and be heard takes more than a catchy melody. The world is forcing music to evolve and become more than just sound. The best albums have always told a story, but now, to rise above the noise and commotion, a band needs to provide for not just the ears, but for the eyes as well.
The Red Paintings have taken this and stand apart, both live and with only a CD in hand. I’ve caught this band live a couple of times, and it is a show that is beautiful and unique, incorporating a cohesive yet theatrical wardrobe, live body painting, and inviting the audience to contribute by painting on a blank canvas. It pulls you in and creates something new. It’s not just a rock show; it’s an experience that reaches beyond your ears and pushes your mind to feel rather than think.
I sit here in a different environment though, my own bedroom, with a copy of their latest album, ‘The Revolution Is Never Coming’ in front of me. At a glance, knowing nothing else, one could mistake this for a band that has plenty of mommy and daddy’s money to blow on paying a talented artist to draw something to reflect how deep their 16-year-old brain thinks, but it catches you in way that makes you look again, and deeper. Before you even pop this disc in, you are feeling the story being told, sending your mind wandering to places you didn’t know existed. It’s weird, but in a good way, and you know this isn’t going to be your typical album.
Opening strangely and slowly, you slide deeper into singer Trash McSweeney’s mind, and the story begins to unfold. Beginning an album this slowly is always a risk, but if you’ve made it past the glance at the cover that turned into a 10-minute existential crisis in your head, you’re already hooked and know that you’re going nowhere for the duration. Track 2 kicks in harder, pulling you out of the slow-motion daze that eased you into the disc. Musically, the creative talent shines just as strong. Plenty of bands utilize strings and instrumentation that’s not typical of a rock band to add a certain depth and production value. The Red Paintings do it differently, though. This wasn’t a producer sitting there looking for sonic layers, every single little thing you hear feels integral. It’s as if each sound is a sentence that, if missing, would make this story nonsensical.
The songs continue to flow flawlessly, never missing a beat, and nothing is out of place or filler. All 13 tracks, or chapters rather, hold your attention hostage until this tale is complete. It’s a beautiful break from the standard of 3-minute radio cuts mashed together and sold as an ‘album’. This is art, passion, emotion, and storytelling in a way that is rarely seen or heard.
As the final song comes to it’s conclusion, you open your eyes, not even realizing that they’ve been closed. This may have just been a story, but it doesn’t get more real.